It’s been spring in Florida since…February, basically…so I was so excited when Merideth’s true seasonal weather cleared up and we could do this Farmer’s Market challenge! There is a wonderful farmer’s market near where she and I went to college, so it felt extra fun to go revisit it for our post! Dragging my dog around the market (she had to sniff everything) was a fun experience and I definitely think I’ll be going back for fresh ingredients and the great community vibe.
Merideth and I set the ground rules that our dishes had to be made from the ingredients at the farmer’s market plus three home ingredients, salt, and pepper. After lots of wandering following the dog, I finally settled on some Brussels sprouts, spring onions, and cucumber. I had a steak at home and some butter and garlic to round out the menu. Not knowing how to incorporate the cucumber, I just ate it.
Being limited by ingredients pushed me to think more carefully about the preparation to impart extra flavor and, consequently, I decided to use my favorite technique: the one pan meal. Ingredients are added one after the other, so prepare the veggies and steak first to decrease total cooking time.
- 1 ribeye steak (approximately 4-6oz)
- 1 cup Brussels sprouts, halved
- 1 bushel spring onions, trimmed halved
- 4tbs butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper
- Melt 2tbs butter over medium heat in a cast iron pan, and add minced garlic.
- Saute onions in butter, turning occasionally, under tender (about 6-8 minutes). Remove onions and place in covered bowl.
- Season halved Brussels sprouts with salt and pepper. Melt additional tbs butter in pan, or as needed to cover bottom of pan.
- Add Brussels sprouts to pan and sear for 3 minutes. Turn and sear for an additional 4 minutes, or until tender. Remove sprouts and add to bowl with onions to keep warm.
- Pat steak dry and season with salt and pepper. Lay steak away from you in the pan to avoid burns from the hot butter. Using tongs, pick up steak after 3 minutes and hold fatty sides of steak again for about 10-15 seconds the pan to render the fat.
- Lay steak on opposite side and cook until desired doneness (I left it for another 2-3 minutes for medium rare. With about a minute left, add onions and Brussels sprouts to reheat and infuse flavor.
- Transfer contents to a plate and enjoy!
Wine Pairing: Because of the steak, char from the cast iron pan, and the simple seasoning of salt and pepper, this dish is good with a full-flavored red wine like cabernet. I had a local wine to go with the locally sourced vegetables!
This was our first recipe Amanda and I cooked together when we first had this idea to keep in touch through food and it was right around Easter last year! We decided for our first meal together, we wanted to cook the same dish so we’d have something to discuss on our skype dates. Our first meal was something of a departure from my usual dinner rotation recipes and it was a new experience in both cooking and eating for me. We decided to cook one of the traditional Easter recipes, a leg of lamb. However, upon examining the goods at the grocery store, we quickly and independently decided that a whole leg of lamb was entirely too much (much to my husband’s dismay) and decided on lamb leg shanks: much smaller and more economical.
To start, we both seasoned our lamb shanks similarly, and I decided to serve my lamb with a simple cauliflower mash and roasted green beans. It was the perfect introductory meal to our new food and communication goals which have so far been successful and a blast to continue.
Roasted Lamb Shank Ingredients:
- 1 lamb shank, on the bone
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground thyme
- 1/4 tsp dried marjoram
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Preheat the oven to 375°F
- Trim the lamb shank of any large, unwanted pieced of fat, although it is not necessary.
- mix together the garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and marjoram in a small bowl. Rub lamb shank with spice mixture and place in on rack in roasting pan.
- Add sprinkle some of the fresh rosemary over the lamb shank and add the remaining sprigs to the top for cooking.
- Place lamb shank on rack of roasting pan* and cook in oven for 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F for Medium or 170°F for well done. I would recommend removing from the oven a few degrees lower than your desired temperature, covering with foil and allowing to rest for 10 minutes to keep everything juicy.
- Serve with vegetables of your choice, or the two recipes I made follow.
*I did not have a specific roasting pan, so I fashioned these foil tubes to lift the shank above the floor of the pan so that it was not sitting in its own juices, and it seemed to work in a pinch.
Cauliflower Mash Ingredients:
- 1 head of cauliflower cut into rough florets
- 2 cloves of garlic-minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Additional herbs to your liking ( I added a bit of rosemary, some oregano and thyme to tie to the lamb)
- Place the cauliflower in a large pot and pour in enough water to cover, you can salt the water a bit if you like
- Bring to boil and cook for 5-10 minutes until fork tender
- Drain and let the cauliflower cool a bit until it is suitable for a food processor
- Place in food processor with salt, pepper and any additional herbs and blend until smooth
- Reheat over low heat if necessary and serve
Balsamic Roasted Green Beans Ingredients:
- 1 lb of green beans ends removed
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbs olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- Spread green beans on a baking sheet and sprinkle on all other ingredients
- Use hands to toss ingredients together so that beans are well coated
- Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes and enjoy!
Wine Pairing: It makes sense that our first recipe would pair well with one of our favorite and most readily available wines. Because lamb has notes of traditional beefy flavors while also being pleasingly different, a fruit forward cabernet would be a great match with this dish. Happy cooking!
When Amanda and I had this Distance Dishes date, Valentines Day was just around the corner so we wanted to make some recipes that were insanely decadent. To me, that meant something incredibly chocolatey. While an eclair might not seem like the logical first choice, I had some leftover raw cacao paste kicking around my pantry and I thought this might be the perfect vehicle to incorporate some. I also wanted to do something a little different with the filling, so an avocado mousse seemed like a great experiment.
The result was this celebration of dark chocolate that was so rich, and had a chocolate flavor more pure than I’d experienced in a pastry before. The topping and the filling themselves seemed like they might be too much when combined in one bite, but the buttery pastry breaks it up perfectly and adds in another dimension of flavor. If you have some time to make these, I highly recommend it.
Pate a Choux
I used this recipe without the extra salt: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/sweet-or-savory-pate-a-choux-recipe
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 stick butter (6 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon sugar plus 1/8 teaspoon salt (for sweet)
- 5 3/4 ounces flour (about 1 1/4 cup)
- 4 large eggs and 2 whites
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, boil the water, butter, salt and sugar.
- Add the flour and remove from the heat. Stir until a ball forms and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Transfer the ball to a stand mixer and turn on to the lowest stir setting.
- Add the eggs one at a time making sure each one is fully incorporated before moving on to the next.
- Once all the eggs are added you can check to make sure your dough is the right consistency by checking if it falls off the paddle to your mixer in v-like sheets. If it is too thick, you may need an additional egg white.
- Transfer dough to a piping bag or a plastic zip top bag with a hole cut in one corner, and pipe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper into lines about 3-4 inches long, 2 inches apart.
- Turn the oven down to 35o and cook for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Once they are cooked, upon removing them from the oven, pierce the sides with a small knife to release steam. This will help them not to collapse in on themselves.
- Allow to cool fully and they will be ready for assembly.
Avocado Mousse Filling
- 3 Ripe avocados
- 1/2 cup of raw cacao paste broken into chunks or cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup of agave syrup or maple syrup (granulated sugar will also work)
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Peel and mash the avocados in a food processor or blender.
- If using cacao paste, heat it over low-medium heat until the chunks are melted. Be careful to keep stirring so that the chocolate does not burn. Add in your sweetener of choice and stir. If using cocoa powder add it and the sweetener directly to the food processor.
- Add the cacao mixture to the food processor along with the vanilla extract and salt and pulse until everything is blended.
- If the mousse is too bitter for you, feel free to add more sweetener as needed. This can be enjoyed by itself as a tasty dessert treat, or can be the delicious filling for our eclairs.
Dark Chocolate Ganache Icing
Note: You can find a more traditional recipe for ganache from my previous Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pie post–this is an alternative using raw cacao paste, but feel free to substitute the other recipe as it may be easier to acquire the ingredients.
- 2/3 cup of raw cacao paste, broken into chunks or cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup agave syrup or maple syrup (granulated sugar will also work)
- 3/4 cup of heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Heat the heavy cream over medium low heat so that it is close to but does not boil. Be sure to stir frequently to ensure that it does not burn.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the cacao and sweetener to the pan and stir frequently until all the chunks are melted and the mixture is fully incorporated.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Keep warm for eclair assembly.
- Transfer the avocado mousse to a piping bag or something with a piping tip.
- Using the side you pierced with a knife already, pipe the mousse into the end of the choux pastry. Be sure to full them as much as you can without overfilling them.
- Once all are filled with the mousse, dip the tops into the ganache and allow to cool in the fridge.
- After all your hard work, these are ready to be enjoyed! To save yourself one long stint in the kitchen, the choux shells freeze well when they are unfilled so you can make them in advance. In addition, the mousse can also be made one day in advance, but just make sure you don’t eat it all if you want to save some for piping. Enjoy!
Wine pairing: With this ode to dark chocolate, you definitely want something bold with notes of chocolate and cherry to go with this decadent dessert. I’d recommend a Zinfandel with those undertones if you can find one, but an Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon are good choices as well ( I mean it’s wine an chocolate–hard to go wrong right?) Happy snacking!
I got a lot of cookbooks over the holidays. A lot. Also some cool flavored vinegars, and food from the places that my family has traveled recently! The gift that came the farthest, though, was a tajine from Tunisia! Tajine (or tagines) are a traditional North African/Middle Eastern roasting pan with a conical top that keeps in the steam. I love it! This was the second dish that I made in my new pan and it makes my dishes taste more special.
Merideth also received a new cooking toy for Christmas- a pressure cooker! Since we haven’t done a Distance Dishes dinner using the same recipe for a while, we decided to see the differences that our two new cooking methods would make on the same meal. We had a slight difference in ingredients too, depending on what we had on hand or available in our two hometowns. Delicious!
- 1 tbs oil and 1 pat butter (or 2 tbs ghee)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 onion
- 1 1/2 inch ginger, grated
- 1-2 tsp red chile powder, to taste (or 1 red chile, chopped)
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tbs cinnamon (or 2 cinnamon sticks)
- 1 lb lean beef, cut into chunks
- 2 oranges, cut into segments and peeled
- 2-3 tbs shelled pistachios
- 1 tbs rosewater or orange flower water
- Salt and pepper
- Melt butter and olive oil in the bottom dish. Add garlic, ginger, and chopped onion and saute until onion is translucent.
- Add chili, coriander, and cinnamon and stir. Add beets and saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Add beef and saute until edges are browned, about 2-3 more minutes.
- Add water and bring to a boil. Cover with tajine lid, lower heat, and simmer for an hour.
- After an hour, add orange segments, rosewater, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 15 minutes and top with pistachios.
Instructions (Electric Pressure Cooker)
- Melt butter and olive oil in the bottom of the pot using the saute/brown function. Add garlic, ginger and chopped onion and saute until onion and translucent and mixture is fragrant.
- Add chili, coriander, and cinnamon and stir. Add beets and saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove this mixture temporarily from the pressure cooker and add the beef. Still using the saute/brown function, brown the beef for 3-4 minutes and then re-add the previously removed ingredients.
- Add about 3/4 of a cup of water or broth to the pot and add the oranges and rosewater/orange flower water.
- Set your pressure cooker to high pressure for 20 minutes and allow the steam to release naturally. Once the cooker is safe to open, serve over couscous, or some yummy Herb Saffron Rice and top with pistachios.
Wine Pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon and other dark red wines are usually the go-to for beef dishes. In this case, I really liked a Syrah/Shiraz for its smoky and stronger fruit flavors to go with the roasted meat and sweet fruit and beets.
So, as you can probably guess from the picture, this is from one of our Distance Dishes dates this fall. However, this recipe is a year-round favorite! I included it in my family’s cookbook compiled for our last family reunion. Adapted from a roasted pork recipe, I like this for the slow cooker – not only does it give me time for chores while it cooks (or, more realistically, a nap!).
- 2lbs pork tenderloin
- 1 16oz jar seedless blackberry jam
- 1 tablespoon rosemary
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons dry red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon
- Salt and pepper
- Season pork tenderloin with salt, pepper, and rosemary.
- Lay pork tenderloin in slow cooker and pour over jam, honey, and wine.
- Cook on low for 4 hours.
Wine Pairing: I had this pork with the same wine I used in the recipe, which was a Cabernet Sauvignon. The fuller flavor stands up to the slow cooking process and the pork!